Covering Wicked Problems

In his keynote speech Jay Rosen will explore the concept of ‘Wicked problems’ in science journalism.   

“Wicked problems have these features; it is hard to say what the problem is, to define it clearly or to tell where it stops and starts." Said Rosen. "There is no "right" way to view the problem, no definitive formulation. The way it's framed will change what the solution appears to be.” 

Rosen thinks that from a scientific perspective, climate change is one of the biggest wicked problems facing us now: “Probably the best example in our time is climate change. What could be more inter-connected than it? Someone can always say that climate change is just a symptom of another problem--our entire way of life, perhaps — and he or she would not be wrong. We've certainly never solved anything like it before. Stakeholders: everyone on the planet, every nation, every company.”

When dealing with wicked problems the framing of the problem is crucial: “We would be better off if we knew when we were dealing with a wicked problem, as opposed to the regular kind. If we could designate some problems as wicked we might realize that "normal" approaches to problem-solving don't work.”

The challenge to journalists is to think and behave differently when reporting these stories: “Journalists who covered wicked problems differently than they covered normal problems would be smarter journalists.”

Rosen touches on the issue of 'Wicked Problems' here:  

http://edge.org/q2011/q11_11.html#rosen